REVIEW: Mauckingbird Theatre’s The Pirates of Penzance Is a Queer Swashbuckler

The cast of Pirates of Penzance. Photo by John Flak.

The cast of “Pirates of Penzance.” Photo by John Flak.

It’s hard to produce an entertaining pirate play in 2016, and even more difficult to pull off a remake. But Mauckingbird Theatre Company’s latest production is an effortless queer revival of Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic The Pirates of Penzance.

I should have expected this: The group, which has built its reputation on retelling popular stories through an LGBTQ lens, has not disappointed me yet. In this version, Young Frederic, played by Garrick Vaughn, is newly released from indentured service with a band of fabulously raucous but loving queer pirates and hoping to atone for his misdeeds. Throughout his journey, he encounters the lovely and vocally impressive Mabel (Laura Whittenberger) and her gender-bending siblings. Surprisingly, the two fall instantly in love with one other. Read more »

Philly Actor Evan Jonigkeit Cast in Netflix Series Frontier

Evan Jonigkeit in Mauckingbird Theatre Company's 2009 production "Never the Sinner" | Photo by John Flak

Evan Jonigkeit in Mauckingbird Theatre Company’s “Never the Sinner” (2009) | Photo by John Flak

An actor who cut his teeth on Philly stages, Evan Jonigkeit, has been cast in a new action series from Netflix called Frontier. The show is set in Canada in the late 18th century and concerns a group of cutthroat characters who are fighting to control the North American fur trade.

“Told from multiple perspectives,” explains Deadline. “the series takes place in a world where business negotiations might be resolved with close-quarter hatchet fights and where delicate relations between native tribes and Europeans can spark bloody conflicts.”

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Tie-the-Knot Tuesday: A Mauckingbird Theatre Company Wedding

Peter and Brandon Wedding

We love when two worlds collide, especially when both of those worlds have to do with gay Philly. Today’s “The-The-Knot Tuesday” is a perfect example of that fusion.

Peter Reynolds and Brandon McShaffrey, both of Mauckingbird Theatre Company, got hitched in a lovely ceremony at the Patrick C. Haley Mansion in Joliet. Although McShaffrey and Reynolds are now both Philly-based, they were originally from Illinois.

Reynolds is the co-founder of Mauckingbird and McShaffrey is the company’s artistic director. Mauckingbird’s mission is to produce innovative, affordable, and gay-themed theater in the region, and have had recent hits such as a gender-bending version of The Importance of Being Earnest and a very gay production of Much Ado About Nothing.

Photographer Luis Fernando Rodriguez was on hand at the special wedding ceremony to capture the happy couple, and shared some of his snapshots with us.

BUY THIS: 2015 Men of Mauckingbird Calendar

We’re finally down to the last page of our 2014 calendars, and it’s time to start thinking about what will fill that space on our walls in 2015.

We’ve already shared one sexy option, Philadoptables’ Hunks for Hounds calendar, but if you’re looking for something with a little more hunk and a lot less hound, you should check out the latest from Mauckinbird Theatre Company.

The 2015 Men of Mauckingbird calendar features fantastic images of some of its leading men over the years—from recent Barrymore winner James Ijames and Dito van Reigersberg to Evan Jonigkeit, who you may have seen on the big screen this summer in X-Men: Days of Future past.

Proceeds from the calendar will support Mauckingbird, a theater troupe that prides itself on staging theatrical works with a gay twist. Upcoming shows include Hot N Cole, a big ol’ gay celebration of all things Cole Porter.

Calendars are $20 each, and can be purchased here.


Young, Gay Love Takes Center Stage in Mauckingbird Theatre Company’s Season Opener

Kevin Murray (left) and Griffin Black star in Mauckingbird's 2014 season opener Beautiful Something.

Kevin Murray (left) and Griffin Back star in Mauckingbird’s 2014 season opener Beautiful Thing.

Mauckingbird — G Philly‘s 2013 pick for Best Theater Troupe — is beginning its 2014 season with Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful ThingThe coming-of-age story — which debuted on American stages 20 years ago this year — concerns the blossoming relationship of two teenage boys growing up on the wrong side of the tracks.

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Chancellor Dean (left) and James Ijames in a Mauckingbird Theater Company production.

Chancellor Dean (left) and James Ijames in a Mauckingbird Theater Company production.

THEATER TROUPE: Mauckingbird Theatre Company
There’s a lot of queer theater happening in Philly these days, but no company devotes itself to the art of gayness quite like Mauckingbird. Each production comes with a gay slant, most recently a gender-bending take on Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. In January, the company will take on Douglas Carter Beane’s Tony-nominated The Little Dog Laughed.

COMEDIAN: Alejandro Morales
Knock, knock. Who’s there? Stan. Stan who? Standup comedian Alejandro Morales is one funny son of a bitch. (Ba-dum-bum.) Catch the “comedian at large” in shows around the Gayborhood and beyond.

Drop everything and find out when Philly drag ditz Maddy Milan is performing next.

Drop everything and find out when Philly drag ditz Maddy Milan is performing next.

Part Kitty Wells, part Joan Collins on too much bubbly, you never know if this ditzy queen is going to dazzle you with a ditty or smack you upside the head with a pair of the lowest hanging titties this side of Shady Pines. If you’re extra lucky, she just might do both.

As gay Philadelphians, we’re blessed with an array of LGBT goings-on, but only one takes place right in the Gayborhood. This autumn block party continues to grow, this year bringing in more than 20,000 homos to rage in the name of being out and damn fabulous.

Matt McWilliams, TK and Steve Fala from Temple gay web series One of the Guys.

Matt McWilliams, Jeff Familetti and Stephen Fala from Temple gay web series One of the Guys.

WEB SERIES: One of the Guys
Out of the handful of Philly-based LGBT web series that popped up this year, nothing makes us smile as consistently as Michael Busza’s Emmy-nominated (!) One of the Guys. Shot on Temple’s campus, the show concerns three gay men and their straight roomie, tackling all kinds of millennial-focused shenanigans and doling out LOLs by the minute. The last two episodes of the series will air between now and next spring, with the finale promising to find the guys splashing around in … Rehoboth!

ART GALLERY: Bridgette Mayer
Housed in an airy 1799 Old City brownstone, the contemporary collections never get dull, thanks to the glamorous blonde curator, whose drive to showcase quixotic, under-the-radar artists is both passionate and laser sharp. And she’s the gallerist who truly gives back: A recent show turned over 20 percent of proceeds to BalletX, the city’s edgy ballet company. Now that’s creative inspiration. 709 Walnut St., 215-413-8893,